Though many people fall into association management, one reason that we often hear from our team that attracts them to Redstone and contributes to their wanting to develop their careers in this field is the variety – of people, industries, practices, trends, etc. No two days are ever the same. Literally! While there are many best practices and recommendations that we bring to the table having worked with a number of different associations, there are also a number of differences from one industry to the next.
We often get asked (from both prospective clients and interviewees) how we learn the ins-and-outs of not only an organization’s business and operations, but also its industry as a whole. Below we share some of the ways we immerse ourselves in our clients’ industries so that we can begin providing value almost immediately.
We are proactive. If we know that we have bid on work in a certain industry in which we have little to no experience, we start our learning even before we throw our hat in the ring to be considered for the work. This helps us get to know the culture and confirm our alignment with the organization. We do this by reading the organization’s website, which includes visiting all of the documents and external links contained within. If there is an industry resource page, even better! We find this provides us with a robust amount of information to get us on the right track.
We are active participants. While to some extent, our regular scope of work includes participation in our clients’ industries, we believe that we go above and beyond in this respect, because we take any and every opportunity to get involved. This includes attending industry events (even ones that are not necessarily mandated), participating in webinars and other digital content, following industry publications on social media, or subscribing to publications and newsletters.
We are experts in relationship development. We identify the key players (long-time members, sponsors, suppliers, etc.) and make an effort to pick their brains about the industry, from their perspective. Some questions may involve reflection on then and now – how have things changed? What has stayed the same? What would they like to see change? This approach allows us to experience the industry from a 360-degree perspective, and from those who have been ingrained in it far longer than we have.
We’re not afraid to ask questions. The age-old saying that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” is something we firmly believe in. We ask a lot of questions whenever there is an opportunity to do so, and soak up the answers like a sponge. You don’t know what you don’t know, and sometimes it’s only through asking something seemingly obvious that we stumble upon an area that requires more investigation.
We embrace being continuous learners. Once we are up to speed, we don’t stop there. At Redstone, we believe in life-long learning and this is true of our own industry as well as those of our clients’. As such, we strive to remain consistent in our approach by continuously re-immersing ourselves in the industry, whether we are just starting out or have been working with an organization for years.
We find similarities to narrow the gap. Though we may be learning an entirely new industry, there are often some similarities to other industries that we can draw on from our past experiences to make the learning curve less daunting. For example, it is a well-known fact that our society is dealing with an ageing workforce, and many associations need to shift their focus and resources to cultivate new talent to prepare for the next generation. This information, combined with our experience supporting associations that are dealing with this challenge, enables us to extrapolate certain assumptions across several industries.
These are just some of the tactics that enable us to be industry chameleons and bring added value to our clients’ industries as a whole. Interested in becoming an industry chameleon? Check out our current opportunities. Interested in having us bring a fresh perspective to your industry? Get in touch!